July 1, 2019 Iran announced it has broken the uranium stockpile limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif announced on Monday that Iran has surpassed the limit on its stockpile of low–enriched uranium set by the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
The nuclear deal limited Iran to 300 kilograms of uranium enriched up to 3.67%.
Iranian leaders first threatened to begin enriching uranium at higher levels in May after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal, bringing new sanctions against the country. A spokesman for Iran’s atomic agency announced mid-June plans to enrich uranium up to 20 percent at the end of the month — just short of weapons-grade levels. The announcement was made just before a scheduled meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, putting more pressure on Europe to come up with new terms for Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal.
U.S. — Iran Tensions
In response to Iran’s threat to break the stockpile limits set by the nuclear deal, the Pentagon deployed 1,000 additional U.S. troops to the Middle East to address the growing threat posed by Iran.
One week ago, President Trump signed an executive order targeting Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iran’s Foreign Minister with financial sanctions. Trump told reporters at the White House that Iran must never have a nuclear weapon.
Trump has invited Iran to talks “without pre-conditions” to renegotiate a better deal. Iran refuses to engage in fresh talks unless the United States accepts the agreement it already signed and lifts the crippling sanctions.
War of Words
Both the United States and Iran continue to insist they do not want war, but since President Trump pulled out of the 2015 Nuclear Deal nearly two months ago, the war of words between the two countries leaders has continued to escalate.
On Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani describes the Trump administration as afflicted by mental retardation and does not know what to do.”
“You sanction the foreign minister simultaneously with a request for talks” he would lead, Rouhani said.
Trump responded to the insults via Twitter on Tuesday by threatening to attack Iran in retaliation for any strikes. Trump tweeted:
“Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration. No more John Kerry & Obama!”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi also responded to the new sanctions via Twitter on Tuesday saying the move had closed off any chance of diplomacy.
STRAIT OF HORMUZ—Why it matters
President Trump addressed growing global concerns that Iran might make good on threats to close off the Strait of Hormuz—a move that could cripple some countries economy. Trump continues to downplay the threat to saying if it happens “it’s not going to be closed for long.”
The Strait of Hormuz separates Iran to the north and the Musandam Governorate of Oman and the United Arab Emirates to the south. It provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean and the world’s most strategically important maritime choke point and a main artery for the transport of oil from the Middle East. Approximately 22.5 million barrels of oil a day passed through the Strait of Hormuz on average since the start of 2018, according to Vortexa, an energy analytics firm. That’s roughly 24% of daily global oil production, and nearly 30% of oil moving over the world’s oceans.